While we have unpublished and published data on catch-and-release mortality for steelhead, the effects of catch-and-release on wild steelhead health and reproduction is poorly understood. As a result, we also draw upon a large body of catch-and-release research on similar species, including but not limited to resident rainbow trout, brook trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and sockeye salmon.
Why is this important?
Today, 70 percent of the major steelhead populations in Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California require federal protection and opportunities to catch wild steelhead have greatly diminished in many rivers.
Despite declines, steelheading remains as popular as ever. In some populations we are catching-and-releasing nearly every fish that escapes harvest. As a result, it is important to balance our desire to catch them with handling practices that give them the best chance to swim away without lasting impairment.
To that end, @wildsteelhead and @keepemwetfishing share a mutual interest in educating anglers about best handling practices. Whether you fish gear or fly, from boat or bank, we all share a common bond in fishing for and taking care of wild steelhead.
Keep an eye out for our new co-lab with Wild Steelheaders United on techniques for catch and release of wild steelhead. These will be making an appearance at a shop near you soon!